Reproductive Health

Anti-Abortion Activist: Having Multiple Sex Partners 'Is Almost Like Rape'

The guest on today's edition of the "WallBuilders Live" radio program was Carol Everett, who reportedly spent several years "selling abortions to other women" before renouncing legal abortion and opening an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center in Texas.

Unsurprisingly, Everett did not have anything good to say about Planned Parenthood, especially since the organization supposedly promotes all sorts of "perverted things" like encouraging young men and women to have sex with multiple partners, which is "almost like rape."

"You and I know anytime you break down God's principles, you're going to get in trouble," Everett said, "but this is horrible. What they do to young women is lie to them about what this birth control pill will do, encourage them to have sex with multiple partners and, you know, they've also gotten into much more perverted things now."

"Everything they're doing is destructive," she said, which prompted host Rick Green to go off on a tangent about how Planned Parenthood now allegedly also promotes thing like polyamory and open relationships, which is destroying not only people's hearts and minds but entire communities.

"It's sick," Everett agreed. "It breaks down all those natural barriers that we're supposed to have. Think about this: one woman sleeping with a man and she knows this woman living here sleeps with him too, how does she feel about that woman? That is not a relationship that fosters anything kind. And how does she feel about him? That, in my mind, is almost like rape when you're just having sex with two or three different women. It's just, what are you doing? It is a sick thing and the only thing that can help us recover is Jesus."

Meet The World Congress Of Families, The International Conservative Network Meeting In Utah Next Week

by Miranda Blue, Isabel Carter-Kahn and Peter Montgomery

This is the first in a series of posts about the upcoming World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City, Utah. In this post, we provide an introduction to the event’s hosts and recipients of its awards for international activism. Subsequent posts will explore the World Congress of Families’ organizing against LGBT equality and women’s rights and its role in growing international social conservative networks.

Next week, hundreds of activists from around the world will gather in Salt Lake City for the ninth World Congress of Families, a gathering of individuals and organizations promoting what organizers call the “natural family.”

The World Congress of Families is a project of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, founded in 1997 by conservative historian Allan Carlson. The Howard Center has a relatively small budget — less than half a million dollars in 2013 — but works with organizers and funders in host countries to throw what it calls the “Olympics” of social conservatism. This is the first time the Congress has been held in the U.S. and will count as guests the governor of Utah as well as Rafael Cruz, father of Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. The event is set to honor activists who advocated for laws criminalizing homosexuality and even meetings between gay people, free speech in favor of gay rights and abortion.

The vision of the “natural family” promoted by WCF is one that excludes LGBT people and precludes reproductive rights. In 2005, Carlson and the Sutherland Institute’s Paul Mero released “The Natural Family: A Manifesto,” a call to arms against the societal changes that resulted from the twin developments of “industrialism and the assault of new, family-denying ideas.”

They offered instead a vision of a return to an economy run by large families operating as independent economic units — a potentially appealing thought until you realize what the economy they envision means for women. In Carlson’s and Mero’s “natural family” dream, they “envision young women growing into wives, homemakers, and mothers; and we see young men growing into husbands, homebuilders, and fathers.” For women, this involves rejecting what they call the “contraceptive mentality” and opening their homes to “a full quiver of children” — a nod to the “Quiverfull” ideology promoted by the self-proclaimed “Christian patriarchy” movement. They insist that “culture, law, and policy” should take into account that “women and men are equal in dignity and innate human rights, but different in function” — a separate-but-equal ideology that drives women out of public and economic life and rejects the rights of those who do not fit into this narrow view of gender roles.

It is this vision that WCF aims to promote around the world, through government policies aiding the “natural family” and in resisting international efforts to protect the rights of women and LGBT people.

The U.S. event offers WCF an opportunity to reestablish itself after the debacle of the last Congress, which was meant to be held in Moscow — home of a spate of new anti-LGBT laws — but was abruptly “suspended” after Russia invaded Ukraine and some of the conference’s organizers were hit with U.S. sanctions. The conference went ahead, but without the official World Congress of Families label. Instead, WCF leaders attended in their personal capacities. The executive director of the Utah event is Janice Shaw Crouse, a former Concerned Women for America official who appears to have parted ways with her former employer over the wisdom of participating in the Moscow summit.

Hosting the World Congress of Families gathering in Salt Lake City is the Sutherland Institute, which describes itself as “a conservative public policy think tank” whose mission is “to shape Utah law and policy based on a core set of governing principles.” The Sutherland Institute, whose budget is about $1.5 million, is affiliated with the State Policy Network, a group of right-wing think tanks. While the Institute is not formally affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the LDS or Mormon Church), it promotes conservative views influenced by LDS theology, sometimes staking out policy positions to the right of the Church itself. The Institute is named for George Sutherland, a U.S. Supreme Court justice from Utah who joined other conservative justices to overturn progressive legislation in the 1920s and led a group known as “The Four Horsemen” who struck down FDR’s New Deal for several years.

Sutherland describes seven principles of “authentic conservatism” – personal responsibility as the basis of self-government; family as the fundamental unit of society; religion as the moral compass of human progress; private property as the cornerstone of economic freedom; free markets as the engine of economic prosperity; charity as the wellspring of a caring community; limited government as the essence of good government. The Institute brags about its work to weaken unions and calls for the abolition of the state income tax on corporations.

In other words, the Institute promotes both the Tea Party’s hostility to government regulation and the Religious Right’s desire to use government to promote “traditional” views of family, parenting, and marriage.Sutherland helped pay for the legal counsel hired by the state to defend its anti-gay-marriage amendment.

The Institute called the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling an “abdication” of the rule of law. Then-President Paul Mero, argued that freedom is incompatible with gay rights, because “bad behavior is the enemy of freedom.” Sutherland supports Sen. Mike Lee’s First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow broad anti-gay discrimination in the name of religious liberty. It also wants to do away with no-fault divorce laws.

In 2014 the Institute produced a 10-page defense of a Utah law requiring restaurants to erect a “Zion Curtain” or “Zion Wall” to prevent restaurant-goers from being able to witness the preparation of alcoholic beverages. Although Sutherland was criticized for supporting what many considered “nanny-state” legislation, former President Paul Mero said the law “disrupts a culture of drinking” and promotes a “culture of sobriety.”

The Sutherland Institute has strong ties with WCF’s sponsor, the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society. Mero, the founding executive vice president of the Howard Center, reportedly helped attract the WCF to Salt Lake City. After 14 years as Sutherland’s CEO he was asked to step down by the Institute’s board last August, for what were described as operational rather than philosophical differences. Mero reportedly agreed to continue to serve on executive committee for the WCF. Sutherland board chair and interim president Stanford Swim serves on the boards of the Howard Center and the State Policy Network.

This year, the World Congress of Families will present its Woman of the Year Award to Theresa Okafor, Familia Et Veritas awards to Luca Giuseppe Volonte and Andrea Williams and an International Pro-Life Award to Father Maxim Obukhov. The backgrounds of these four activists provide insight into the values that the World Congress of Families seeks to promote around the world.

Theresa Okafor

Okafor, from Nigeria, is the World Congress of Families Regional Director in Africa. In 2009, she was successful in bringing a World Congress of Families event to Nigeria. She is the CEO of Life League Nigeria and the director of the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage.

The Foundation for African Cultural Heritage is a coalition organization that encompasses 20 “family values” organizations such as Association of Concerned Mothers, Nigerian Association for Family Development, Doctors Health Initiative, Life League Nigeria, the Christian Association of Bishops Conference of Nigeria and the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Nigeria. Her groups have supported and lauded Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which banned all same-sex relationships and gay people gathering in groups of two or more. The act led to the arrest of dozens of people.

The Foundation for African Cultural Heritage releasedvideos of a press conference it organized to support the bill, during which speakers called homosexuality “abhorrent” and compared it to alcoholism. At a World Congress of Families annual gathering in Madrid in 2012, Okafor speculated in a speech that Western countries advocating for gay rights in Africa were involved in a “conspiracy” to “silence Christians” with the terrorist group Boko Haram:

Unfortunately, in Nigeria where I come from, we have these fundamentalists, the Boko Haram – I’m sure you’ve heard about them in the news – bombing churches. They seem to be helping some people in Western countries who are out to silence Christians. The Boko Haram are targeting Christians in Nigeria, so you wonder if there’s a conspiracy between the two worlds.

In the speech she also speculated that efforts to promote LGBT rights in Africa are “another ploy to depopulate Africa,” a sentiment she expresses repeatedly.

Okafor also has ties to the American group Family Watch International, which works to stop advances in LGBT equality and reproductive rights at the UN, cosponsoring the group’s Global Family Policy Forum in Gilbert, Arizona.

Luca Giuseppe Volonte

Luca Volonte is an Italian politician and the president of the Novae Terrae Foundation, which states on its website that it is committed to “promot[ing] human rights from the religious point of view.” The “Goals” section of the group’s mission page emphasizes its focus on contrasting Christianity with “Islamic culture.”

Volonte serves along with the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown on the board of trustees of CitizenGo, an international organization that promotes petitions backing conservative positions, including opposition tosame-sex marriage and abortion rights. In response to Target’s decision to stop segregating its toy aisles by gender, CitizenGo released a petition saying the new policy was a result of “sexual radicals ” who “want to erase distinctions between male and female, and promote transgenderism among children.”

In 2010, Volonte won the chair of the European People’s Party in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. As chair, Volonte led the successful effort to withdraw a report on "discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Volonte was appointed chairman of the anti-LGBT Institute for Human Dignity, a Catholic NGO based in Rome, in 2013. The institute released a declaration defining human dignity as:

That man is made in the image and likeness of God; that this image and likeness proceeds in every single human being without exception from conception until natural death; and that the most effective means of safeguarding this recognition is through the active participation of the Christian faith in the public square.

This declaration was adopted by the European Parliament's Working Group on Human Dignity , a coalition that promotes Europe’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage, as their foundational document.

In 2015, Novae Terrae announced a partnership with the European Large Families Confederation.

Andrea Williams

Andrea Williams is the CEO of Christian Concern, a United Kingdom based group that promotes a “Christian voice” in government. In the “About” sections of Christian Concern’s website, the organization states that it pursues these goals because “ ...in the last few decades the nation has largely turned her back on Jesus and embraced alternative ideas such as secular liberal humanism, moral relativism and sexual licence. The fruit of this is rotten, and can be seen in widespread family breakdown, immorality and social disintegration.” The organization attempts to move policy on “abortion, adoption and fostering, bioethics, marriage, education, employment, end of life, equality, family, free speech, Islamism, religious freedom, the sex trade, social issues and issues relating to sexual orientation.” Christian Concern has campaigned against numerous pieces of LGBT anti-discrimination legislation, citing that they would create discrimination against Christians.

Williams encouraged Jamaica to keep same-sex intimacy (still referred to in the country’s legal code as “buggery”) illegal at a conference organized by the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society and the Christian Lawyers’ Association in Kingston that she attended with extreme American anti-LGBT activist Peter LaBarbera. At the conference, she suggested Olympic diver Tom Daley is gay because his father died, and that “sometimes a level of abuse” is responsible for one becoming gay.

Williams is the director of the Christian Concern offshoot Christian Legal Centre, whose website says it “defend[s] many Christians who have suffered for their beliefs,” in a similar fashion to the American Alliance Defending Freedom. The Christian Legal Centre has provided legal support to a woman who sued an art gallery for displaying an image of Jesus with an erection and to a man who was relieved of his position as a police officer after sending homophobic emails.

In concert with Alliance Defending Freedom, Christian Concern also runs the Wilberforce Academy, which says its aim is to “train and equip the invited students on what it means to proclaim Christ in public life.” Williams has said this on the Alliance Defense Fund:

The ADF are a fantastic organization. We have been inspired by their work and that of the Blackstone programme, which seeks to raise a new generation of lawyers to defend Christianity in the public sphere. They've got some of the best attorneys in this field and we have the great privilege of hosting them, but they don't pay anything towards the academy.

In 2010, Williams was elected to a five year term as a member of the Church of England General Synod.

Maxim Obukhov

Father Maxim Obukhov is credited by Religious Right leaders as the founder of the pro-life movement in Russia and led the effort to bring the World Congress of Families to Moscow last year. He was instrumental in convening a World Congress of Families “demographic summit” in Russia, which resulted in a statement addressed to world leaders. Part of the statement read:

We call on the governments of all nations and on international institutions to develop immediately a pro-family demographic policy and to adopt a special international pro-family strategy and action plan aimed at consolidating family and marriage, protecting human life from conception to natural death, increasing birth rates, and averting the menace of depopulation.

In 2009, Obukhov drafted an official proposal for WCF to come to Moscow, and the plan was solidified. However, the conferencewas cancelled in response to backlash over President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Crimea. An “International Family Forum” sprang up in its place, and many of the same pro-family leaders from the United States and around the world were in attendance.

Obhukhov created the Zhizn Center, an organization connected with the Russian Orthodox Church that dedicates itself to the “dissemination of Christian views on questions of family and marriage” and against abortion rights . He is also secretary of the Church’s bioethics committee and an expert on bioethical issues for the Moscow Patriarchate. World Congress of Families claims the Zhizn Center runs more than 30 crisis-pregnancy centers.

Obhukvhov was part of a group established by the Duma’s committee on family, women and children in 2010 for the purpose of drafting anti-choice legislation. Parts of the legislation drafted by the group, which included no medical professionals, were used in a health reform bill signed by President Dmitry Medvedev in 2011. Proposals that did not make it into legislation attempted to end federal support of all abortion services, require that women receive the approval of their spouses before having an abortion, and require prescriptions for the morning-after pill. Obukhov opposes hormonal birth control.

Obukhov has told LifeSiteNews that he believes the Obama administration’s sanctions on Russian lawmaker Yelena Mizulina, author of the infamous “gay propaganda” ban, following the Ukraine conflict were evidence of Christian persecution. Obuhkov said, "President Obama is using the economic sanctions against Yelena Mizulina to send a very clear message to Russian Christians. There is much talk about a cold war, but President Obama has openly declared war upon Christians who oppose the culture of death both at home and abroad."

David Daleiden Explains How Discredited Sting Taught Him To Confront The 'Enemy' Of Planned Parenthood

As we explored in our recent report on the Center for Medical Progress’ attacks on Planned Parenthood, CMP founder David Daleiden worked in concert with a few longtime anti-choice activists in his effort to claim that Planned Parenthood violated federal laws with its fetal tissue donation program. One of those activists was Mark Crutcher, who through his Texas-based group Life Dynamics, conducted a very similar undercover video “sting” of fetal tissue donation practices in the late 1990s, with a similar goal of undermining legal abortion.

Crutcher’s claims fell apart when his key witness admitted at a congressional hearing that he had lied about witnessing “profiteering by fetal-tissue providers.” The Omaha World-Herald reported at the time:

[U]nder questioning from the committee, Alberty admitted that he had lied in previous statements made to Life Dynamics, an anti-abortion group in Texas. In a videotape produced by Life Dynamics, a disguised Alberty charged that he had witnessed profiteering by fetal-tissue providers, among a number of charges he later denied in a sworn affidavit.

Alberty also admitted receiving more than $10,000 from Life Dynamics.

On Thursday, Alberty contradicted himself repeatedly, at one point telling the committee he didn't remember if he had put on a dress to disguise himself in the Life Dynamics video.

"When I was under oath, I told the truth," Alberty told the committee. "Anything I said on a videotape when I wasn't under oath is a different story."

Another focus of Life Dynamics’ “investigation” was a middle-man whom they said profited from fetal tissue after obtaining it from a Planned Parenthood facility in Kansas. Planned Parenthood was never implicated in any wrongdoing, and federal prosecutors never found evidence to bring charges against the man Life Dynamics had targeted.

In an in-depth interview with the “Catholic Answers Focus” podcast last week, Daleiden recalled that in 2010 he had a “very detailed” three-hour conversation with Crutcher about this failed sting operation, from which he came away determined to copy Crutcher’s actions, only this time he would be better prepared to confront the “enemy” of Planned Parenthood.

“I felt like it deserves to have a very detailed and sophisticated exposé done about it again, and done in a way that would go even farther than what was done before and do it in a way that wouldn’t allow it to just be ignored or swept under the rug,” he said, “so that was the original inspiration.”

“So I think that Mark Crutcher did groundbreaking work and I think that it was a great victory just for him to get the information out that he did,” Daleiden said. “But I think definitely you always want to learn from how something was done before and if, I wouldn’t say so much mistakes, but just areas where the enemy pushed back really hard and kind of what the best tactics of the enemy were, and wanting to make sure we could learn from the past and have a way to neutralize those in the future.”

He added that as well as learning about “the best tactics of the enemy,” he decided to focus on Planned Parenthood “so that nobody could deny that this was a Planned Parenthood problem and so Planned Parenthood would have to be held to account for their actions.”

Cheryl Sullenger, a top official at Operation Rescue, another extreme anti-choice group that Daleiden turned to for help, has said that Daleiden came into the project sharing “our vision for obtaining criminal prosecutions” of Planned Parenthood officials in order to “bring an end” to “the abortion industry in America.”

Six states have so far closed investigations into Daleiden’s claims, finding no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood Attackers Slam Group For Ending Fetal Tissue Reimbursements They Criticized

Over the summer, anti-choice activists began accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally profiting off the fetal tissue that a handful of its clinics allow women to donate to medical research. Although only one percent of Planned Parenthood’s clinics currently even offer that option, the women’s health provider’s critics have spent months baselessly claiming that the organization is profiting off the practice.

Those claims have not held up to scrutiny and last week Planned Parenthood announced that its two remaining clinics that legally accept reimbursement for fetal tissue donation will no longer do so in order to completely dispel the rumor that the organization is profiting off donations for medical research.

But, of course, with anti-choice activists Planned Parenthood just can’t win. After the anti-abortion movement spent months claiming that Planned Parenthood’s acceptance of reimbursements for fetal tissue was a big money-making scheme, one Religious Right group is now claiming that the organization’s decision to stop accepting those reimbursements is an even bigger money-making scheme.

In its weekly email newsletter on Friday, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission acknowledged that Planned Parenthood could never have made much money from tissue donation even if it was breaking the law and alleged that the organization is now absorbing all the costs of tissue donation because “they can make even more money by not accepting direct reimbursements.”

PP believes that by giving up the reimbursements, they can win a PR victory by convincing the public that this was merely an indirect attack on abortion rights.

The second, unstated, reason is likely that PP knows they can make even more money by not accepting direct reimbursements. Less than 1 percent of PP’s clinics earn any money by being compensated for fetal tissue donations. But now PP can solicit funding from 100 percent of their donor base to cover the cost of the fetal remains they provide to researchers.

It not surely no coincidence that PP announced the policy just before they begin their fundraising campaign for end-of-year donations. By overhyping their role in fetal tissue research—what they call “this limited but important work”—they will convince their donor base that they have made a noble sacrifice that will require compensation. Overall, PP is likely to make much more money from pro-abortion advocates by fundraising off this issue than they ever made in direct compensation from actual fetal tissue donations.

US Congressman Headlining Conference Defending Ireland's Abortion Ban

Rep. Chris Smith, the New Jersey Republican who is a leading proponent of U.S. engagement in international social conservative causes, is scheduled to headline a conference in Ireland tomorrow aimed at preserving the country’s laws criminalizing abortion.

The theme of the conference, organized by the Irish anti-abortion group Pro-Life Campaign, is the defense of Ireland’s Eighth Amendment, which introduced a constitutional ban on abortion. Abortion is outlawed in Ireland unless a pregnant woman’s life is in danger, but even in those cases, doctors can be hesitant to operate for fear of running afoul of the law. According to a recent Amnesty International report, at least 4,000 Irish women travel to other countries each year to obtain safe and legal abortion. Others have faced harrowing experiences where they are “essentially forced to wait until their condition deteriorates sufficiently in order for doctors to justify a medical intervention.”

A movement to repeal the Eighth Amendment has been growing since the 2012 death of Savita Halappanavar, a woman who was denied a life-saving abortion in an Irish hospital. Ireland’s recent vote to legalize marriage equality has encouraged those hoping to liberalize the country’s abortion laws.

Anti-Choice Organizer: Defund Planned Parenthood Because 'Its Sexual Ethic Is Corrupted'

Dr. Monica Miller of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, one of the main organizers of this weekend’s protest rallies at Planned Parenthood clinics, said on Tuesday that even if Planned Parenthood were to stop performing abortions, she would still want to strip it of federal funding because it promotes a “corrupt view of human sexuality” including “sex for recreation, sex for mere pleasure.”

“Planned Parenthood from the top to the bottom is a corrupt organization,” Miller told Ave Maria Radio’s Teresa Tomeo, “corrupt in its view of the sanctity of human life and corrupt in its view of human sexuality. And I say even if Planned Parenthood didn’t perform one single abortion, just the mere fact that its sexual ethic is corrupted means right there, should be the reason right there, that they should not receive any federal money. The kind of sexual ethic that Planned Parenthood promotes is sex for recreation, sex for mere pleasure.”

“Unfortunately we live in a culture that believes in that sexual ethic and so Planned Parenthood gets $528 million of federal tax money,” she added.

Anti-Choice Groups Lobbying To Keep Renee Ellmers Off Planned Parenthood Committee

Roll Call reported yesterday on some interesting behind-the-scenes wrangling that’s going on as House leaders convene a panel to investigate Planned Parenthood. The staunchly anti-abortion Rep. Trent Franks, Roll Call reports, is “serving as an informal liaison” between GOP leaders and outside anti-choice groups that are seeking to influence which members are picked for the select subcommittee.

There’s also one GOP congresswoman whom the anti-abortion movement really does not want the Planned Parenthood committee: Rep. Renee Ellmers.

Ellmers, who opposes abortion rights and wants to defund Planned Parenthood, has reportedly been trying to get on the investigative committee, which was created under the guise of investigating the organization’s fetal tissue donation practices.

But Ellmers got on the wrong side of the anti-choice movement earlier this year when she led a group of Republicans who objected to a 20-week abortion ban because its rape exception was too harsh on rape survivors, which she warned could turn off young voters. The House had planned to vote on the bill during the annual March for Life on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. When Ellmers’ objections led the vote to be cancelled at the last minute, anti-choice leaders were furious, and Sen. Lindsey Graham memorably pleaded that he needed “help to find a way out of this definitional problem with rape.”

It later came out that anti-choice groups including the Susan B. Anthony List and Concerned Women for America had lobbied for the tightened rape exception, which would have only exempted rape survivors if they first filed a report with law enforcement. After the 20-week-ban debacle, the National Right to Life Committee threatened to go after Ellmers “at the polls.”

In the end, House Republicans settled on a rape exception that was only slightly less severe, omitting the reporting requirement but adding a waiting period for rape survivors.

Now, CWA’s Penny Nance is saying that Ellmers “could potentially distract from the overall mission” of the Planned Parenthood committee and Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee is saying that to “reward her with a seat on the special panel would be inappropriate, to put it mildly.”

As we noted earlier this week, the House GOP’s supposed “investigations” of Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation program — the ostensible target of a series of anti-choice smear videos — have quickly turned into an all-out assault on Planned Parenthood and legal abortion in general. The fact that Ellmers — who committed one minor infraction against anti-choice orthodoxy — is now deemed to moderate to be in the panel just underscores that point.

Anti-Choice Leader To Planned Parenthood: 'What About Men’s Health?'

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the influential anti-choice group Susan B. Anthony List, dismissed the women's health gap in an interview with a West Virginia radio show on Tuesday, saying that Planned Parenthood’s talk about women’s health care is just “gender-based, grievance-oriented politics” and that “real women who truly love what womanhood really is” want “equal rights” for men, including a focus on “men’s health.”

“It’s as if men or other people don’t even matter,” WVHU radio host Tom Roten told Dannenfelser in a discussion of Planned Parenthood. “It just seems like a way to get to people is to talk about ‘women’s health, women’s health, women’s health.’ What about the females who are being aborted? What about those women and their health?”

“Yeah, equal rights for unborn women,” Dannenfelser responded. “But, look, I’m with you, Tom. I love men! What about men’s health? I mean, do we have anything to say about men’s health and the particular health problems that men have? Do we ever talk about the ‘men’s gap’ when we’re moving into an election? I mean, real women who truly love what womanhood really is have enough confidence to go ahead and also really love men and truly see that, yeah, really, equal rights. So this gender-based, grievance-oriented politics is something that I hope the Republican Party will not fall into.”

“I’m not going to pretend that women’s health issues aren’t riveting, but so equally are men’s,” she added. “But the things that are so easily manipulated are the emotions that lead to feeding the lies, and we cannot buy into this lie that somehow Planned Parenthood is the central distributor of women’s health in general, they’re simply not. They are a population-limiting organization, that’s in their 990s, that’s their mission, that’s who they are. They’re not centrally positioned to do much beyond that.”

Planned Parenthood’s 990 tax filings, for the record, do state the organization’s mission as “ensuring the provision of reproductive and complementary health care services.”

Newest Planned Parenthood Hearing Shows Real Goal Of House 'Investigation'

Back in July, after a group called the Center for Medical Progress started to release a series of videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials violating federal laws regarding the donation of fetal tissue for federal research, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte launched an investigation into the claims. The CMP’s claims have not been substantiated — six states have so far closed investigations into Planned Parenthood’s practices without finding any wrongdoing — but that hasn’t deterred Republicans in Congress from going full steam ahead in attacking Planned Parenthood anyway.

The House Judiciary Committee has announced the witnesses for its second hearing on Planned Parenthood (the Oversight Committee also held its own hearing interrogating Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards), and the list makes it pretty clear that Republicans have completely lost interest in the CMP’s original debunked claims and are now just going after Planned Parenthood and legal abortion in general.

The witnesses for Thursday’s hearing are progressive constitutional lawyer Caroline Frederickson, along with three outspoken anti-choice activists: Dr. Anthony Levatino, Susan Thayer and Luana Stoltenberg.

While committee Republicans invited to the last hearing two self-professed “abortion survivors,” Levatino, Thayer and Stoltenberg are all representatives of another favorite group within the anti-abortion movement – people who have experienced a “conversion” from being an abortion provider or patient to being an anti-choice activist.

Levatino is a former abortion provider who has since become an activist working with extreme anti-choice groups including Priests for Life and the Pro-Life Action League; Thayer is a former Iowa Planned Parenthood manager who has also become an anti-choice activist; and Luana Stoltenberg tells a story of getting pregnant as a teenager, becoming “very, very promiscuous” and having several abortions before converting to Christianity and becoming an anti-abortion activist.

These three activists may have interesting stories, but none is at all relevant to the question that the committee is supposedly investigating. Instead, the choice of these witnesses reveals yet again that House Republicans are using the smear on Planned Parenthood not to launch a genuine investigation, but to attack the very existence of legal abortion.

Frank Pavone: Support For Planned Parenthood Would Be Lower If Pollsters Just Lied

Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, who has described himself as “close to” the Center for Medical Progress’ smear of Planned Parenthood, argued this week that public support for Planned Parenthood has been inflated because pollsters aren’t lying to poll respondents about the nature of the organization’s federal funding.

In an interview on Ave Maria Radio on Wednesday, Pavone reacted to a Pew poll finding that 60 percent of Americans support federal funding to the women’s health provider by saying that surveys should instead ask, “Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion business in the country, do you believe your taxpayer money should fund those abortions?”

The reason pollsters don’t ask the question that way may be because, under federal law, no federal funding goes to the organization’s abortion services except in very limited cases.

Pavone also insisted that “much of the American public does not even realize that Planned Parenthood does abortions” because “they cleverly hide it in the very title of the organization. ‘Planned Parenthood’ sounds something like you’re in favor of parenthood, not that you’re in favor of snuffing it out.”

Pavone also reasoned that Planned Parenthood must not be interested in providing health care to low-income people because if it, was it wouldn’t attract campaigns to defund it, or something:

If you, Planned Parenthood, really believe that, if you believe that you are so necessary to provide so many good things to people that otherwise wouldn’t have them, then why do you act so irresponsibly doing this immoral things that most of the public rejects, doing potentially illegal things that you’re now being investigated for? If you really consider yourself to be such an important part of society’s service to people, clean up your act! If you think that if you close your doors, all these people are going to be out of services, then shouldn’t you be more careful that the government doesn’t have to come in and close your doors? Stop the immoral and illegal activity!

Mark Crutcher: CBC 'Sold Their Souls To The Devil' By Supporting Planned Parenthood

Mark Crutcher, the Texas anti-choice activist who inspired David Daleiden’s attack on Planned Parenthood , has recently turned much of his attention to arguing that legal abortion is the equivalent of “black genocide.” Crutcher brought his case to VCY America’s “Crosstalk” earlier this week, where he declared that African-American groups that support reproductive rights have “sold their souls to the devil” and “sold their own community down the river.”

Crutcher attacked the Congressional Black Caucus for holding an event in support of Planned Parenthood, saying that it was no different than if they had come out to “celebrate the Ku Klux Klan or the American Nazi Party.” CBC members, he said, “have completely sold their souls to the devil and they have sold their own community down the river”:

For these people in the Black Congressional Caucus, who, by the way, have a long history of selling out the black community in a lot of areas, but this one in particular, for these people to come out here now and celebrate this organization would be absolutely no different than for them to come out and celebrate the Ku Klux Klan or the American Nazi Party. In reality, Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation and the rest of the American abortion industry has done far more to wipe out the black community than the Klan ever dreamed of.

Just to give you an example of that, in four days, the American abortion industry wipes out more black people than the Ku Klux Klan killed in 150 years, and they do that every four days. So these people that you’re talking about, these politicians that you’re talking about, have completely sold their souls to the devil and they have sold their own community down the river because it is politically expedient for them to do so.

Crutcher also took aim at Black Lives Matter protesters who have expressed support for Planned Parenthood, comparing them to freed slaves who “would go into business for themselves and they would buy slaves”:

They are ambitious people who know that their ambitions can only be satisfied by supporting the abortion lobby, the population control people, so they will sell their own people down the river in order to do that. …

During the days of slavery, there were incidences … where slaves would earn their freedom, be set free by some method or another by the person who was their slaveowner, and then those people would go into business for themselves and they would buy slaves. So you would have black, African-Americans who were former slaves who now owned slaves.

Richard Land: Obama's Presidency 'Is A Direct Judgement Of God On America For Killing 57 Million Babies'

Richard Land, the former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm who is now president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, repeated his claim on Tuesday that Barack Obama’s presidency is “a direct judgment of God on America” for legal abortion.”

“In our society, there’s an idea abroad that unborn babies are not fully human beings and don’t deserve the protection of the law,” Land told South Carolina pastor and radio host Kevin Boling. “That’s resulted in 57 million babies being killed, it’s resulted in a rise in euthanasia and rationed health care to the elderly and a brutalization and devaluation of human life in the United States. And I believe it’s also brought about the judgment of God.

“You know, nobody ever talks about the fact that if you wantonly turn your back on God and you engage in horrific and barbaric activities, God’s going to judge you. I believe that Barack Obama being president of the United States is a direct judgment of God on America for killing 57 million babies.”

Land added that the only reasons “why God has not judged us more severely than he has” is that “we have blessed Israel” and that “in spite of all of our paganism in this country we still provide 90 percent of the manpower and 95 percent of the funding for the worldwide missionary effort of the Christian faith.”

Earlier in the conversation, Land disputed the right-wing conspiracy theory that President Obama is secretly a Muslim, saying that the president is “a very typical example of a 21st century mainline Protestant who has a very cafeteria approach to biblical truth”

He added, however that the president is “sympathetic to a lot of anti-American causes,” citing Dinesh D’Souza’s movie “America,” to claim that Obama has “an anti-colonial bent that he got from his father and he just thinks America is a bad influence in the world, and everything ought to be done to withdraw American influence and to have other influence.”

Troy Newman Claims He Never Called For Executing 'Abortionists.' Has He Read His Own Book?

Troy Newman, the head of the anti-choice group Operation Rescue and a driving force behind the recent attacks on Planned Parenthood, made news this week when he was barred from entering Australia after a member of parliament raised concerns that his extremism “would cause significant harm to our community.”

Operation Rescue is understandably upset with the decision, and is taking advantage of the controversy to gin up plenty of publicity for itself. But the group has also taken exception to some of the Australian MP’s complaints, specifically claiming that Newman has never called for the execution of abortion providers, as MP Terri Butler wrote in a letter disputing Newman’s visa.

Operation Rescue said in a statement:

A pro-abortion Member of Parliament, Terri Butler, sent a spurious letter to Minister of Immigration Peter Dutton falsely accusing Newman of advocating the execution of abortion providers, which Dutton never bothered to fact-check.

Newman has never advocated violence against abortion providers or facilities and has instead adamantly encouraged pro-life activists to work through the legal, legislative, and justice systems to bring abortionists who are breaking the law and harming women to justice.

In fact, as Butler detailed in her letter, Newman said exactly that in his 2000 book “Their Blood Cries Out,” whose 2003 revision includes this passage:

When moms, dads, abortionists are added together, well over 100,000,000 people bear personal bloodguilt for at least one abortion. The doctrine of community bloodguilt found in Scripture further implicates the entire nation. The perpetrators are far too numerous and the bloodguilt has spread too far. We deserve God’s judgment.

In addition to our personal guilt in abortion, the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people. Instead, the act of abortion has been elevated to a “God-given right” and the abortionists canonized as saints. Consequently, the entire nation has the blood-red stain of the lives of the innocent upon its head.

And also this one:

The innocent blood of the New Covenant in Christ has the power to atone for all the innocent bloodshed from the beginning of time to the end, and to purify the whole earth — the land. Rejecting that innocent blood is to reject the only standard that is effective against innocent bloodshed, excluding the lawful execution of the murderers, which is commanded by God in Scripture.

Sure, Newman wasn’t advocating the extralegal killing of abortion providers — he’s always been very careful to never quite go there — but he was very explicitly saying that providing an abortion should be a capital crime equivalent to murder. In fact, he was saying that all of America suffers “bloodguilt” for legal abortion because of the failure to punish abortion providers through the legal system.

Whatever one may think regarding the legitimacy of Newman's complaint about being barred from Australia, he cannot simply pretend that he never wrote words that are very clearly written in his book.

GOP Congressman Confused Why Planned Parenthood Gets More Money Than Boys And Girls Clubs

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards spent much of her time at yesterday’s House Oversight Committee hearing on her organization’s federal funding explaining how Medicaid reimbursements work. Planned Parenthood, just like other health care providers that accept Medicaid, receives reimbursements for its health care services for low-income people, excluding abortion services.

Many Republican members of the committee, however, were unable or unwilling to grasp this, including Rep. John Duncan of Tennessee, who demanded that Richards explain why Planned Parenthood gets more federal funding than the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Richards noted that the Boys and Girls Club, which receives some grants from the Justice Department for its youth programs, is not a health care provider.

“Well, I think the cost of providing health care to 2.7 million people, and I very much respect the Boys and Girls Club, but we work like hospitals and other health care providers in being reimbursed directly for services that we provide,” Richards explained. “Again, I think the comparison is a little apples and oranges.”

After Richards explained again how Medicaid reimbursements work, Duncan changed strategies and asked Richards to clarify that she does not “defend the sale of baby body parts.”

Dave Brat: GOP's Planned Parenthood Criticism Just A Ruse To Hide Budget Increases

Rep. Dave Brat, the Tea Party-aligned Republican who unseated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia last year, attacked congressional leadership of both parties last week, claiming that they were encouraging the “little drama” about Planned Parenthood defunding in order to create a “shiny object” to distract from their attempt to jettison the budget caps put in place by sequestration.

“Everyone’s trying to act like it’s this shiny object at budget time with Planned Parenthood or something,” Brat told Virginia talk radio host John Fredericks last Thursday, the day before House Speaker John Boehner announced his retirement. “That’s got very little to do with it.”

“The key question for the press right now is who is in charge of the United States budget?” he said.

He offered one possibility: “[Maryland Democratic Sen.] Barbara Mikulski is in that room, we know that, she is encouraging all this Planned Parenthood drama and all this kind of thing. But those issues are not front and central in the budget process, and we should have debated them in regular order as we were promised. And so I just encourage folks, don’t get lost in this Planned Parenthood shiny object thing, look at what’s really going on, both sides, the Republicans and the Democrats, want to break the budget caps. That’s what this is all about.”

“Is this whole Planned Parenthood thing just like a ruse to get everybody’s eye off the ball?” Fredericks asked.

“Yeah, yes, yes!” Brat answered. “The budget is $3.5 trillion, that is the main game in town, that’s where the power is, that’s where the money is. Think ‘House of Cards.’ What’s it about? Is it about Planned Parenthood or is it about massive power in a $3.5 trillion budget? I mean, anyone knows the answer to that.

“So at the end of the day, the press all unites, blames a few conservatives for this that or the other thing. It has nothing to do with it. This thing has been orchestrated for over a year, over three or four months ago, Hal Rogers, the head of Approps, in quotes said ‘we need more flexibility up here,’ that means we need more spending. There was no videos back then, there was no Planned Parenthood debate back then, the entire budget set-up has been put in play by leadership, and so they need to get us out of it, they don’t get to blame somebody at the end of the day over some little drama.”

GOP Congressman: Planned Parenthood Unnecessary Because 'As A Guy' I Have Plenty Of Options

Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wisc., perhaps best encapsulated today’s House hearing grilling Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards when he told Richards that her organization’s services aren’t necessary because “as a guy” he has plenty of health care options in his home state.

Grothman, who presumably receives very good health insurance through his job as a member of Congress, told Richards that “when I look at cities around me that have a Planned Parenthood clinic … usually in those cities, as a guy, I could go to many clinics locally that have all the machines that one would need, all these clinics as far as I know take Medicaid dollars, so you could go to any of those clinics to get any medical service you could.”

“I guess what I’m getting at is if Planned Parenthood disappeared tomorrow in those towns, there would still be three or four or five clinics or hospitals providing all the … medical care you would want,” he said.

Grothman then claimed that Medicaid, which provides health care for low-income people, is “superior care” to private insurance because “without the deductibles and copays it’s usually better insurance than other people have.” Grothman has previously claimed that people who use the public safety net are fleecing taxpayers by living luxuriously.

Richards reminded Grothman that Planned Parenthood’s 22 health centers in Wisconsin serve 65,000 people a year. The claim that other health care providers could easily absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients if it was forced to stop providing care is simply false, especially since many of the supposed “replacement” clinics Planned Parenthood’s critics point to don’t have reproductive health care expertise.

How Abortion Restrictions Can Land Pregnant Women In Jail

In a new paper for the Guttmacher Policy Review, Andrea Rowan explores how the many new restrictions on abortion access, combined with laws criminalizing women who attempt to self-induce abortions, are leading to disturbing cases of women being prosecuted for attempting to self-induce or even for suffering miscarriages.

Rowan writes:

Since Roe v. Wade, a number of women have been prosecuted in the United States for self-inducing abortion under a variety of state statutes, ranging from fetal homicide to failure to report an abortion to the coroner. Recently, the issue has gained greater attention because of several well publicized cases in which women were prosecuted—and even imprisoned—for self-inducing an abortion or being suspected of doing so. Despite claims from antiabortion advocates and lawmakers that abortion restrictions are intended to only criminalize providers of abortion care, some prosecutors have exercised their discretion under current state laws to penalize women who end their pregnancies on their own. Moreover, these laws are even being used to pursue women who are merely suspected of having self-induced an abortion, but in fact had suffered miscarriages.

She notes that this pattern can be seen clearly in El Salvador, where abortion is criminalized and dozens of women have been charged with attempting to self-induce an abortion:

This phenomenon has been playing out for some time and most starkly in other countries where abortion is illegal altogether. For instance, El Salvador has been one of the most aggressive countries in terms of accusing, prosecuting and imprisoning women believed to have medically self-induced an abortion. An estimated 129 women in El Salvador were charged with self-inducing an abortion between 2000 and mid-2011, and at least 26 were convicted of homicide and imprisoned; however, some of these women emphatically assert that they did not know they were pregnant or that they miscarried without attempting to self-induce.

Laws criminalizing “fetal homicide” in a number of states have been an important part of the radical anti-choice movement’s attempt to establish fetal “personhood” with the goal of one day outlawing all abortion and even some forms of birth control. Sociologists Jeanne Flavin and Lynn Paltrow have documented hundreds of cases since Roe v. Wade in which pregnant women have been detained under these and other laws that can effectively criminalize pregnancy.

The Radical History Behind The Center For Medical Progress' Sham Planned Parenthood Investigation

This summer, a group called the Center for Medical Progress began to release a series of videos from an undercover “investigation” which it claimed showed that Planned Parenthood “sells aborted baby parts” for profit.

Since then, those claims have been roundly debunked, but the stir created by CMP’s videos has led to votes on defunding Planned Parenthood in the House and Senate and in several states, multiple House hearings (including one happening right now) and the threat of a government shutdown, and even contributed to the resignation of the speaker of the House.

Although little was known at first about who the Center for Medical Progress was, researchers and journalists quickly traced its ties to a number of radical anti-choice groups, and especially to Operation Rescue, which has existed for decades on the radical fringe of the anti-choice movement.

In a new report released today, People For the American Way explores the ties between CMP and its founder, David Daleiden, and Operation Rescue, placing Daleiden’s project in the history of the “direct action” anti-choice movement’s attempts to harass and intimidate abortion providers and patients.

In a radio interview first reported in the PFAW report, Operation Rescue’s second-in-command, Cheryl Sullenger, who spent time in federal prison in the 1980s for attempting to bomb an abortion clinic, explained that Daleiden approached her organization because he “shared our vision” for bringing “an end to the abortion industry in America” through attacking Planned Parenthood.

The “direct action” movement that Operation Rescue and CMP represent originated with dissidents from the National Right to Life Committee, which after the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade was the main organization working to overturn the decision and outlaw abortion through legislation. Early “direct action” protesters abandoned this legislative strategy and instead focuses on attacking legal abortion at its source, harassing abortion providers and patients and sometimes physically preventing women from entering abortion clinics in what became known as “rescue” missions.

As part of this strategy, Operation Rescue now advises activists to use a wide range of methods, including covert ones such as the “sting” operation Daleiden carried out, to gather information on abortion providers (and sometimes patients) in order to harass them at their homes and workplaces or to make their clinics expensive to operate.

One strategy later perfected by Mark Crutcher, who runs a group called Life Dynamics, used sham “investigations” to infiltrate and unnerve abortion providers. One of Crutcher’s investigations attacked the legal practice of fetal tissue donation for medical research; Daleiden has admitted that Crutcher gave him the idea for CMP’s project. The purpose of Crutcher’s investigations was not to shed light on hidden truths, but instead to intimidate abortion providers in order to stop them from offering their services, with the goal of building Crutcher once called “an America where abortion may indeed be perfectly legal, but no one can get one.”

Although Daleiden calls himself an “investigative journalist,” he actually comes out of this tradition of intimidation and harassment disguised as investigation.

PFAW’s full report, “Operation Rescue’s Big Break: How an Organization Rooted in the Radical Fringes of the Anti-Choice Movement Is Threatening to Shut Down the Government,” is available here.

Santorum: America Is 'Never Going To Be Blessed By God' So Long As Abortion And Gay Marriage Are Legal

Rick Santorum kicked off his remarks at the Values Voter Summit today by declaring that the United States will never be a great nation or receive God's blessing so long as gay marriage and the right to an abortion remain legal.

Bragging that he has attended every VVS event since it began 10 years ago, Santorum thanked those in attendance for "standing up and bringing to this city the issues that are at the core of the problems in this country."

"America is never going to be a great country if we're a country that kills our children in the womb, ever!" he said. "We're never going to be blessed by God if we're a country that kills our children in the womb. We are never going to be a great country if we allow for the destruction of the American family, that's what's happened over the last 50 years."

Marco Rubio's Planned Parenthood Whopper Places Him In Far-Right Fringe

There have been several layers of lies that have grown out of the smear campaign that anti-choice groups are currently waging against Planned Parenthood.

The first is the baseless allegation found in the heavily edited tapes that activists calling themselves the Center for Medical Progress have been slowly releasing: That Planned Parenthood violated federal laws by profiting from its voluntary fetal tissue donation program. (Or, in CMP’s words, is “selling aborted baby parts for profit.”)

Those allegations do not hold water. CMP’s videos edited out many instances of Planned Parenthood employees making clear that the organization does not profit from fetal tissue donated to medical research. Several states launched investigations into Planned Parenthood after the videos were released, and every investigation to conclude so far has found no wrongdoing.

The next layer of lie is the claim that Planned Parenthood participates in fetal tissue research in order to turn a profit. This claim, rooted in the anti-choice movement’s years-long campaign to frame abortion providers as a money-hungry “industry” is completely absurd, especially given that just two of the organization’s 59 affiliates and just one percent of its clinics offer patients the opportunity to donate fetal tissue to research.

But the third lie, the truly astounding whopper, is that Planned Parenthood only offers abortions in order to sell fetal tissue for profit. Although this is the thought process that the Center for Medical Progress seems to hope that people will follow, only the farthest-right of the anti-choice fringe has put it into so many words.

Alveda King of Priests for Life alleged that Planned Parenthood makes “a lot of money” by using birth control to give women breast cancer and coercing women to have abortions so they can sell the fetal tissue. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, made a similar claim when he suggested that Planned Parenthood opposes the 20-week abortion ban that was blocked in the Senate today because they can profit more off of fetuses in later stages of development: “This suggests why they may have been opposed to bans such as this, these five-month bans, because the longer the pregnancy goes, the more valuable the parts.”

But yesterday, Marco Rubio, Republican senator from Florida and supposedly “establishment” presidential candidate, gave this completely absurd idea a new platform when he claimed on an Iowa TV news program that women are pushed into abortions so that those tissues can be harvested and sold for a profit”:

Yes, not only does Rubio think that women who choose to terminate pregancies are “pushed into” it, but that the providers who are supposedly doing the pushing are doing it solely to protect a nonexistant fetal-tissue racket.

That’s something that we expect to hear from the farthest fringes of the anti-choice movement, not from a presidential candidate.

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